Wasn’t expecting to be able to ride a bike today but the forecast improved considerably, so I did. I had scheduled work at 1800 so I abandoned my desk rather early to be back in time. But I only wanted to do 30-odd anyway.

Dry and sunny, but cold, about 5C, diminishing rapidly after sunset. Windier than advertised, as well. I did a Twycrosser.

I meant to take the same road between Sibson and Shenton that I did on the 19th, but I took the wrong turn and went through Upton instead. But that was a road I hadn’t done for a while, and pleasant enough in its own way.

Back 45 mins after sunset, but it was still just about light enough to see the road.

Another 33.21 miles and that’ll be it for January.  Pretty pleased with 481 miles this month.


A stiff wind was coming from the south but it was a dry and sunny day. Not too cold. Agreeable conditions for a southbound fondo, to get another neighbouring county box ticked (Northamptonshire).

I was up at about 0800 and expected to have set off by 0915 or so, but I dawdled a bit over breakfast and didn’t leave until 0950. Probably for the best, because it was a bit warmer by then and I had plenty of time.

Stopped for a wee after 11 miles. Unfortunately the farm gate I’d leaned the bike against wasn’t secured, the wind caught it and pushed the bike over. The bike was fine though except that the mirror popped out of its ball joint. I assumed I’d have to do without it for the rest of the ride. The last time I did that (by exactly the same method) I was unable to push it back on. I think I resorted to using a vice or something. This time though I did manage to get it back on by brute force when I stopped and had a go a few miles later.

I was very happy to find the shop at Gilmorton open – they close at 1pm on a Sunday apparently, and I got there at 1230. So I treated myself to lunch on one of the tables outside. I bought some stuff to eat on the way back, as well.

I took the left to Sibbertoft Gliding Club, to cross the boundary there rather than Welford. Kept going into Northamptonshire for half a mile or so then turned back. It’s an unusual county boundary, at least at that point. Doesn’t have a natural feature like a stream or an old road. It just crosses a field.

I tried a modification to the route. One negative about the southbound route is having to slog up a hill into Earl Shilton both ways. But while experimenting with a route planner yesterday, I found that I could avoid this by taking the bypass. It circles round the hill. This involves taking a short, winding, narrow cycle path between the usual route and the bypass, which I’m not keen on – I did notice a few thorny creepers straggled across the path, and I know from unfortunate experience that a thorn can give you a puncture. But I avoided them, and it was very nice not to have to pedal up that hill.

Quite often a strong wind dies down in the afternoon but not today, which was nice as it meant I had a noticeable tailwind on the way back.

Listened mostly to 5 Live – the Australian Open mens’ singles final and some very entertaining FA Cup footy. I also listened to 45 minutes or so of David Hepworth’s Uncommon People, not bad. He writes well but he waffles.

Back nearly 3 minutes before sunset. 66.83 miles.


I did a Twycross Bypasser, always a nice option on a Friday after work. Dry and sunny to start off, but uncomfortably cold after sunset. Quite a strong wind from the west.

Lovely along Atterton Lane at dusk. Tranquil.

Only wanted to do 35 miles really, but I ended up with another 40.15 in the bag.

The weather looks thoroughly decent for Sunday, dry and about 10C. Northamptonshire and back, I think.

King’s Bromley

Hadn’t been out on a bike for a few days so I was very much looking forward to downing tools early this afternoon and getting 40 miles or so in. Bright, dry, mild (about 8C) but the wind from the west was pretty stiff.

I decided on the Lower Westbound Route and did that, except that I went up to Ashby and through Packington on the way out west. Also, bizarrely, I took the wrong turn from Measham, through Oakthorpe and Dinisthorpe. I’ve done this once before – deliberately, and decided I wasn’t going to do it again. But I have done it again, out of absent-mindedness.

Got as far as King’s Bromley, then turned back. The wind was supposed to have dissipated a bit by this time, meaning I’d only have a weak tailwind on the way home. But I don’t think it had, or not by much. It definitely gave me a decent push along the flat bit from Bromley to Croxall.

Really nice out there – makes a big difference having dry, mild conditions. A few puddles and wet patches on the road, but not much. Nice to have a bit more daylight in the afternoon as well.

Back on 44.85 miles which takes me over target for the month (the 2024 target is 4550).


Very cold. I did a Twycrosser, coming back east through Upton and Shenton which I hadn’t done for a while.

The other half has been a bit militant about my preference not to wear a helmet, of late. I much prefer a woolly hat in cold weather. However, although I don’t like to appease her usually I did wear a helmet this time, with a cover on and a cycling hijab underneath in the hope that it would keep my head warm. I’ve bought some head torch helmet clips to keep a head torch band in place. Worked well enough.

I’m not sure if my head was as warm as it would have been in a “dutt”, but then again my feet and hands were unusually cold as well. Took the pic a few minutes after sunset, and wished I’d brought my other phone. It would have taken a much better photo.

The road between Sibson and Shenton is lovely cycling territory. Every time I do it I resolve to do it more often in future. Then I don’t.

Anyway back on 32.66. 297 done this month.

Four Counties

A bright sunny day, but a bit windy and very cold. I devised a route that would see me cycling in four counties after work. Not as ambitious as it might sound – the border between Leicestershire and Staffordshire is only about 2km long, with Warwickshire at one end and Derbyshire at the other. None of them are very far from Chez Slim.

So I headed down that way, through Heather, Swepstone and Snarestone, then west to Appleby Magna.

I hadn’t been through Appleby for years – it used to be on my Wales route, though I wouldn’t go that way now. I got slightly lost and ended up taking a different route through and out of the village than I intended, but I was happy I did – it was really beautiful along there in the cold sunshine. Reminded me of going on winter walks with my grandmother when I was (at a guess) six or seven years old.

I exited Leicestershire to enter Warwickshire at No Man’s Heath, at 1607. Six minutes later at 1613, I entered Staffordshire along Main Street. Another nine minutes later I penetrated Derbyshire along Netherseal Road, following a right turn from Clifton Campville at 1622. I connected with my usual Lower Westbound Route thirteen minutes later, and at 1551 I successfully performed re-entry to Leicestershire again, at Acresford.

So: over the 15 minutes between 1607 and 1622, I had cycled in four counties.

I should say that for the purposes of this exercise I was using the modern “ceremonial” county boundaries, not the historic ones. I didn’t actually visit historic Derbyshire at all. All of the Derbyshire territory along this ride is actually in historic Leicestershire. Derbyshire annexed a chunk of Leicestershire a century or two ago, in return for land elsewhere. But I definitely visited both versions of Staffordshire, so that’s another neighbouring country ticked off.

I’d never done the road between Clifton Campville and Netherseal before – it was lovely just before dusk. Very quiet, almost like a secret place. I’ll try to remember to do it again.

I hadn’t been through No Man’s Heath for a few years and I was pleased to see that the road surface was better than I remembered.

I went up through Ashby on the way back to add a couple of miles. Back on 27.61, not as many as I wanted really but it was seriously cold after sunset so I don’t feel too bad. My average distance figure is a bit rubbish so far this year, but on the other hand I’ve done 264 miles which is more than acceptable 16 days in.


Originally, ie earlier in the week, the plan was to do a fondo today. But the forecast changed to threaten rain in the afternoon so since it was rather cold anyway, I decided I’d settle for 40 miles or so.

I left the house at about 1020. The wind was coming from the north-west. I went up to Swarkestone Bridge the long way through Isley Walton, then west along the Beloved A Road. I was going to stop after 20 miles or so then come back an even longer way through Ticknall and Hartshorne, but when I saw a right turn to Etwall, I thought – why not have an excursion into Derby? So I did; all the way through Etwall and Mickleover and right into Derby city centre. I’ve done this a couple of times before, though I took a different route through the centre this time.

I took a wrong turn near Mickleover and quickly realised that I was heading the wrong way down a one-way entrance to the roundabout I’d just left. Worse, the occupants of a police car queuing there in the other lane observed me doing this. I pulled up sharply, manhandled the bike onto the verge and retreated quickly. Fortunately they didn’t trouble me. Ten minutes later I got bored of waiting for the lights to change at another road junction so since it was clearly safe to do so I went right through a red, only to find another police car waiting at the same set of lights around the corner. Happily they didn’t seem to be bothered either.

I came down Osmaston Road to Swarkestone Bridge, then home the usual way from there. Stopped for a few snacks at a petrol station near Chellaston.

Nice sunny weather for the first 90 minutes or so. Then a bit gloomy. Then light drizzle. Then, a few miles from home, tiny hailstones. I examined a couple of them that had landed on my right glove. They looked like tiny shards of glass and they felt like it as well, when they were bouncing off my face. Fortunately that only persisted for a couple of minutes. Regular rain for the rest of the ride.

I entered Derbyshire of course so that’s another neighbouring county ticked off. I did Nottinghamshire last Sunday so that’s three done, four to go.

Back on 46.47 miles. 236 done this year which surprisingly is more than I’d done this time last year.


A Twycross Bypasser is a nice way to close the week after work on a Friday, so I did that. Not quite so cold as Tuesday. No chance of rain though conditions did feel a little damp.

I stopped for a snack in the pitch black beween Ratcliffe Culey and Sibson, leaning against a telegraph post. I’ve done that a few times along there recently. Quite an enjoyable little ritual.

I tried a new pair of cycling shoe covers. They fit my shoes much better than the last pair I had, which used to foul the cleats and got chewed up over time. They seem more waterproof as well. Possibly not quite so warm though, but they do keep the wind out.

Back on 34.62 miles, 190 done this year already. I want to do about 375 this month if I can so I’m on course.


A dry and sunny afternoon, but a very cold one, with a strong wind coming from the east. My vague plan was to do about 15 or so of the eastbound route then come back. Didn’t want to do less than 30.

However the experience of riding uphill against a powerful, chilly wind toward Zouch put me off a bit. I decided to keep it short. Took a left for Long Whatton to loop back west and south. I thought I’d add a couple of miles by coming back through Isley Walton and Breedon rather than down Top Brand. Looking at the map though, it makes very little difference. Half a mile at most (at a guess). Nice change, though.

With the wind at my back it was actually lovely out there, even at about 2C. There was a beautiful ambient light post sunset. I did feel I should have done a few more miles, but the temperature had dipped sharply by the time I got back so I might have regretted it. 24.10 miles.


A light wind was coming from the NE and a dry, intermittently sunny day was forecast; ideal conditions for the first eastbound fondo apart from the temperature. Cold out there, 3 or 4C.

I checked before I set off that the road through Zouch wasn’t still closed by floods – is handy for this. Interestingly the A6 was still closed from the same junction, with a barrier stretched across the road. I saw several drivers ignore this, and drive round the wrong side of the traffic lights to get past it.

Originally I’d planned to take the old route through Rempstone, to avoid the low ground near the Soar going through Stanford and Cotes. However I couldn’t find any cycling food in the fridge this morning. I’m out of cheese rolls, Cornish pasties and mini pork pies. So I crossed my fingers and went that way regardless, so I could stock up at the petrol station at Burton on the Wolds. I did have to contend with a few massive puddles, and a shallow river crossing the road near Cotes. But nothing too alarming.

I was comfortable enough on the way out but the temperature seemed to dip sharply at about 3pm, on the way back. I listened to 5 Live mostly. Some very entertaining FA Cup football in the afternoon.

Back about 20 minutes after sunset, on 62.62 miles. 131 done this month, and my average distance is now a more reasonable 43.65 miles. I like to maintain it above 40.